By CAITLIN CROWLEY
QUEENSLAND’s answer to the world’s richest race on turf, The Everest, is coming to Toowoomba’s Clifford Park this New Year’s Eve.
The Mort & Co King of the Mountain slot race will give punters the chance to share in $750,000 in prize money, in what Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Kent Woodford said was a historic announcement.
“I think it will be a game-changer for our race club, it will be a game-changer for the Toowoomba community and it’s going to be a massive event,” he said.
The King of the Mountain will have a similar format to The Everest at Sydney’s Royal Randwick and The Kosciuszko – the world’s richest race for country-trained horses – but in this case only Queensland bred and trained horses will be eligible.
“This is similar to the Everest where there are a certain amount of slots that are put up for sale,” Turf Club CEO Lizzy King said.
“There will be x amount of runners in the race – and that will be sold to individuals, there might be businesses, there might be syndicates and that sort of thing.
“And then $750,000 worth of prize money is absolutely sensational – to say that the Toowoomba Turf Club is going to be home to the richest provincial race in Queensland is something we’re very very proud of.”
King said the concept was pitched to Racing Queensland nearly three years ago and it was great to see it come to fruition.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the final terms and conditions would be ironed out in the next month, with no confirmation yet on what it will cost to secure a slot in the race.
“The Mort & Co King of the Mountain will be a slot race that’s all about Queensland, all about Queenslanders, all about the Queensland breeding industry,” Parnell said.
“Queensland bred horses will be exclusively eligible for this race and they have to be trained by Queensland domicile trainers, ensuring that the King of the Mountain money stays in the sunshine state.”
Mort & Co CEO Steve O’Brien said the decision to sponsor the 1200m dash was a “no-brainer”.
“We are seriously protective and supportive of our region and regional Queensland and this race, King of the Mountain, is really bringing the region to the city.”
The Mort & Co King of the Mountain is expected to be under lights at Clifford Park as part of its New Year’s Eve race card, two weeks out from the Magic Millions, usually run on the second Saturday in January.